Baby Reveal Battenburg Cake

It’s showtime for Princess Kate Middleton.  In honor of this very special moment in British history, I’ve decided to attempt the Battenburg Cake this week.  This is a classic English tea cake with a German name created to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse (Prince Phillip’s maternal grandmother), to Prince Lois of Battenburg in 1884.  The name Battenburg later became Mountbatten, which soon changed into Windsor due to anti-German sentiment right before World War I.  Incidentally, Kate’s full name is Catherine Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor.  Long story for a little cute cake, right?

Traditionally, this cake has pink and yellow sponge cake, but since nobody really knows whether there is a little prince or princess on the way, I went ahead and did a pastel pink and baby blue pairing.  For other special occasions it’s fun to mix up the color combinations of this cake.  You can even cover the entire cake in marzipan and fondant, covering all sides, and use this as a “reveal” cake to surprise your guests with the gender of a soon-to-be-arriving little one.

For its beauty and uniqueness, the Battenburg Cake is a pretty easy cake to make.  You just need a square pan, both 8″ or 9″ work just fine.  The hardest part is making sure the cake pieces are cut evenly, a process that is greatly aided by the use of a large serrated knife.  If you don’t want to go through the extra step of making the icing, which serves as the cake’s “glue,” you can just use apricot jam or store-bought icing.

As we all wait for the royal declaration to arrive, try munching on a piece of Battenburg Cake to take the edge off of all that anticipation.  And, of course, a strong cup of Fortnum & Mason’s Royal Blend Tea (with a splash of milk!) is just the drink to keep you alert and engaged while you are reading all of those gossip magazines covering the royal debut.

Battenburg Cake

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:

100 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

100 grams sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

100 grams self-rising flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

50 grams ground almonds

1 Tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

non-stick spray

food colorings of your choice

100 grams unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

zest of one lemon

2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

8 ounces of almond paste or marzipan

8 ounces white fondant

dragees or nonpareils for decoration (optional)

Equipment:

8″ or 9″ square pan

Parchment paper

fondant quilting tool

food scale

Directions:

1.)  Pre heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare pan by spraying with non-stick spray and then lining with parchment with a pleat in the middle (see below).

2.)  Cream butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Mix flour and baking powder in separate bowl.

3.)  Add eggs to butter and sugar mixture, incorporating one at a time.  Gradually add in flour mixture.

4.)  Add in ground almonds, then mix until just blended.

5.)  Add in milk and extracts.

6.)  When all ingredients are just blended, divide batter into two equal portions, into two separate bowls.  It’s best to use a scale for this process.

7.)  Add a drop or two of food coloring into each bowl of batter if you are using them, and mix in.

8.)  Spread batters into two sides of parchment lined pan and bake for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

9.)  Make lemon buttercream while the cake is baking and cooling.  Mix butter, confectioners’ sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract, and cornstarch well in a bowl.  Set aside.

10.)  After cake has cooled, trim off browned or uneven edges, then cut each color piece of cake into two equal strips lengthwise.

11.)  Ice all sides of each piece and stick to other iced pieces in an alternating color pattern (see below).

12.)  After all pieces are iced and stuck together, ice the entire cake, and roll out marzipan or almond paste in a thin layer enough to cover all sides of the cake.  Cover the iced cake with the rolled marzipan or almond paste, being careful to make sure the marzipan/almond paste is making tight contact with the cake for pretty slicing later.

13.)  Roll out fondant in a thin layer, and cover the marzipan-coated cake in it.  You can either cover all sides of the cake or leave the two side cross-sections open as I have below. Optionally, use a fondant quilting tool to decorate and attach dragees or nonpareils with remaining icing.

Step-by-Step Process:

Square baking pan with parchment “pleat”

Make sure “pleat” stays upright before it goes into oven, and spread batter evenly

Sponge cake is done after 10-12 minutes in oven, or when toothpick comes out clean with no crumbs

Building the Battenburg Cake with lemon icing

Last strip of cake added

Almond paste (or marzipan) rolled out thinly to cover iced cake pieces

There is a final coating with rolled fondant here because I like the white color, but a traditional Battenburg Cake is just covered with marzipan

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